For feds, mask mandate, diversity training reversal on Day 1 of Biden presidency
- By Natalie Alms
- Jan 20, 2021
President Joe Biden's Day 1 to-do list includes several federal workforce policies, although it notably does not include the reversal of Trump's controversial Schedule F executive order.
Feds can expect an executive order requiring masks and physical distancing for federal employees and contractors, and in all federal buildings and on all federal land, according to a release from the Biden-Harris transition team.
The first day is also expected to include an order that prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal government.
Biden is planning on reversing various Trump-era policies. The White House Chief of Staff is set to issue a regulatory freeze memo pausing new, "midnight regulations" to give the new administration can review them. The new president is also set to reverse some Trump-era regulatory process executive orders.
Biden is also going to reverse an executive order created by his predecessor that severely constrained diversity and inclusion training for federal employees, grant recipients and contractors.
Not on the first day agenda: the reversal of Trump's controversial executive order that created a new category of federal employee not covered by traditional civil service protections called Schedule F.
The Office of Personnel Management recently approved the reclassification of 400 positions in the Office of Management and Budget, according to a letter from Reps Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations. The Government Accountability Office informed them about the development last week.
Although it doesn't appear like the reclassification of those positions will be fully put into place today, the exact administrative process for moving the positions back to the schedules they were previously classified under is unclear.
Employees at OMB will likely be able to continue reporting to work as usual, said Jason Briefel, the director of policy and outreach at the Senior Executives Association.
As far as the omission of the order's reversal from Biden's day-one priorities goes, the "primary reason to keep it open for any amount of time" would be to "try to reverse any of the impact" and "deal quickly with any employees who may have been reclassified," Briefel said.
The new schedule takes away many of the hiring and firing protections typically afforded to civil servants. Good governance groups, public sector unions and lawmakers have lobbied for the new administration to reverse the order. Democratic lawmakers have pursued various means to block the implementation of the order, most recently via a new bipartisan bill introduced last week.
The recension of a series of 2018 executive orders centered on public sector unions and discipline procedures for feds also didn't make the schedule for the first day.
Biden previously has spoken about his intentions to reverse these 2018 orders, writing in an answer to a presidential candidate questionnaire from the American Federation of Government Employees that he would "restore federal employees' rights to organize and bargain collectively, restore their right to official time, and direct agencies to bargain with federal employee unions over non-mandatory subjects of bargaining" on his first day in office.
Biden's first-day blitz of executive orders, memos and directives does include the provision of an ethics executive order for executive branch appointees.
On Trump's last day in office, the outgoing president issued an executive order loosening ethics requirements for his former employees. The new order released administration members from an ethics pledge they signed near the beginning of his term. The pledge included a five-year lobbying ban for employees' former agencies.
The Biden transition team did not respond to a request for comment about what the Biden-Harris team plans to do about Schedule F.
Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.